A few years ago we had a terrible accident when a water line burst in our home. About 4:00 A.M. one morning I had gotten up to get a drink. It was dark and as I walked into the kitchen I waded into water on the floor. Turning on the light (a dangerous move in itself) I saw water pouring from the ceiling. Sheetrock had already fallen on the kitchen floor leaving a hole in the ceiling about four feet in diameter. I turned off the water outside then waited until office hours and called a plumber. When he arrived, we assessed the problem and found a water leak in a line leading to the bathroom sink upstairs. Evidently, when the house was built, the soldering joint of that copper line did not seal thoroughly, and over time it had corroded to the point that a leak developed. First it was minor and undetected, but by the time I discovered the problem, it had become a geyser. The plumber re-soldered the line and it became as good as new because he knew what he was doing. He reminded me he was a plumber and not a drywall specialist, so he presented me with his bill and then left.

The water stains and the hole in the ceiling were still there, so I was left with a decision to make – either call someone else or do the job myself. You guessed it, I chose the latter. After all, it was just a little sheetrock, tape, joint-compound, texture, and paint. It didn’t matter that I had not done this before, I had watched others do it. I could save myself a lot of money, and it would look just as good as a professional job – so I thought. I learned that it is pretty difficult to nail a large piece of sheetrock upside down. It’s hard to smooth out tape and bedding evenly. It is next to impossible to match the ceiling texture and feather out the edges. The only thing that I really could do well was paint. But I finished, and I thought it looked pretty good. My wife concurred, but after 45 years of marriage she knows the skill and art of consoling me in my mistakes. I was proud to show off my accomplishments to those who would look, always being careful to show it to those I knew who could not have done the job as well. One day, however, my bubble burst when a drywall professional called my attention to the texturing and feathering job. He tried to complement my work, but I knew that he was letting me know that the job was lacking to the trained eye. I was reminded that “pride goes before a fall” (Prov. 16:18).

My cover-up job serves to illustrate this lesson from the farm. I thought my work was okay; but I was judging it by my own standard. Ever since the Garden of Eden, we humans have exhibited a serious flaw which has separated us from God. Satan whispers in our collective ear and tells us to question the very Word of God. He did so with Adam and Eve (Gen.3:1-5), and he does so with us. It is that sin which condemns us. We would much rather have it our way than God’s way. In the days of the Judges, a statement was made that sums up our problems to this day: “Everyone did right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). In other words, everyone became his ownauthority, and behaved on the basis of his own opinion of right and wrong. It is no different today. Individuals, groups, and societies have made themselves the final authorities without reference to God’s word. In the days of the prophet Amos, the Lord showed him a plumb line, hanging first against a building that was plumbed true. Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer” (Amos 7:8). The obvious point was that God wanted his people Israel to be right with him and remove the sins that made them crooked, sinful, and out of plumb. God’s Word is the plumb line that helps us to be aware of our sin. Without a compass, a standard, a guide beyond ourselves we miss the mark, and missing the mark is called sin. That is why Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6). He is the final and the Living Word (Heb. 1:1-3; John 1).

It is so very different today. We live in a culture that reeks of political correctness, especially in the area of religion. After all, one religion is just as good as another. But those who espouse this teaching and tell us that we should worship the God of many names and not change other people’s religions are speaking contrary to the Bible, for scripture plainly says of Jesus Christ, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Were today’s prevailing philosophy applicable to the household of Cornelius in Acts 10, then Peter made a wasted trip. After all, Cornelius had piety and morality, but he did not have salvation. Many today would have said, “Leave Cornelius alone! His religion and his personal view of right and wrong are a part of his culture, and it would be a shame to change these things.” But God didn’t see it that way. He sent Peter to the home of Cornelius to proclaim that there is no salvation apart from faith in Jesus Christ by saying, “Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name” (Acts 10:43). Apart from hearing this message of the Gospel and trusting Christ, Cornelius (or anyone else for that matter) has no hope according to the word of God.

My water leak was just an infinitesimal pin hole which evaporated about as quickly as it sprayed out. But it did not stay that way; it became a “gusher.” Remember, taking one bite of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden seemed so innocent at the moment, but it led to death from a flood in Noah’s day; and one day it will lead to God’s ultimate judgment upon mankind. The Bible says that “ sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned,… how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many” (Rom. 5:12, Rom. 5:15). Sin created the necessity for the death of the only begotten Son of God upon the cross; but by that death, the provision of forgiveness and salvation was made possible for all who believe in Jesus Christ. God’s way is better than man’s way, because it fixes our “house” permanently, and for all eternity. The signature song by the late George Younce of the Cathedral Quartet was This Old House. That song was his way of looking over a life (this old house) spent in service to Jesus while anticipating a move to a superior dwelling place, “an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Cor. 5:1). The chorus concludes:

Ain’t a gonna need this house no longer, ain’t a gonna need this house no more,
Ain’t got time to fix the shingles, ain’t got time to fix the floor.
Ain’t got time to oil the hinges, nor to mend the window panes,
Ain’t a gonna need this house no longer; I’m a getting ready to meet the Saints!